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"All my Relations" vs. "Our Father" - nhpeacenik
nhpeacenik
nhpeacenik
"All my Relations" vs. "Our Father"
My Friend Lizzie Cornish recently posted the Lakota prayer "Mitakuye Oyasin" ("All My Relations")  on her Facebook page, with the comment that it beats the hell out of the Lord's Prayer. I have to confess that the Native American prayer is more universal in its message than the one Jesus is said to have recommended to his followers I think they serve different purposes.


Aho Mitakuye Oyasin

All my relations. I honor you in this circle of life with me today. I am grateful for this opportunity to acknowledge you in this prayer.

To the Creator, for the ultimate gift of life, I thank you.

To the mineral nation that has built and maintained my bones and all foundations of life experience, I thank you.

To the plant nation that sustains my organs and body and gives me healing herbs for sickness, I thank you.

To the animal nation that feeds me from your own flesh and offers your loyal companionship in this walk of life, I thank you.

To the human nation that shares my path as a soul upon the sacred wheel of Earthly life, I thank you.

To the Spirit nation that guides me invisibly through the ups and downs of life and for carrying the torch of light through the Ages, I thank you.

To the Four Winds of Change and Growth, I thank you.

You are all my relations, my relatives, without whom I would not live. We are in the circle of life together, co-existing, co-dependent, co-creating our destiny. One, not more important than the other. One nation evolving from the other and yet each dependent upon the one above and the one below. All of us a part of the Great Mystery.

Thank you for this Life.


The prayer is said by one person to a multiplicity of beings. It acknowledges that the Spirit infuses all living things, and all parts of planet Earth, not just human beings, and expresses gratitude for the cooperation and coexistence  of all these beings, which sustains the person speaking the prayer as well as all the rest.

In contrast, the Lord's Prayer is said by a group of humans ("us") to a unitary male deity, begging him to remain sacred and in charge, to keep on feeding us so we stay alive, and to make it easy for us to continue behaving morally. It calls for a bargain in which we forgive the bad things others do to us and God in turn forgives us for all the bad things we have been doing (and continue to do) to others. It implies that perfection ("heaven") exists and that God can and should make our earthly life more like that perfection.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts (trespasses, sins),
as we also have forgiven our debtors (those who trespass against us).
And lead us not into temptation (trials),
but deliver us from evil (the evil one)
for the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory are yours for ever

About that bargain, with the background of Jesus' other teachings in mind, we must assume that we are supposed to stop doing evil right now, so that the bargain can be final, but what if we keep doing bad things to other people? It doesn't ask that victims of our bad acts be made whole, but just that God forgive us on behalf of them; what happens to "them" is of no concern.  The prayer is human-centered, in-group-centered and selfish. It also implies that the whim of God could kill us all off in an instant.

Both prayers express a passive attitude toward life and the workings of the Spirit. In the Lord's prayer, God is to remain sacred, all-powerful,  and in charge, insuring that the world continues toward perfection. In the Lakota prayer, the relationship of all beings and all "nations" is eternal and dynamic, with no single part being in charge.

Thankfulness and cooperation are at the heart of the Lakota prayer. Fear and shame seem to underlie the Christian prayer.

The reality is that those who repeatedly say the Lord's Prayer have been among those who perpetrate many large-scale wrongs on each other and upon the other peoples and "nations" of the Earth.  Those who recite the Lakota prayer have, to be fair, never been numerous enough to demonstrate the positive or negative outward effects of saying their prayer on a world scale.

I know that the mental and physical effects of reading or saying the Lakota prayer feel positive and helpful. Having grown up with the Lord's prayer, I feel anxious when I listen to the words, but peaceful if I just let it wash over me as an ancient formula, like singing or hearing an old ballad. We used to say in unison, along with the 23rd Psalm and the Pledge of Allegiance in elementary school; I wonder whether my life would have been different if we had recited "All My Relations" each morning instead.

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Comments
tibbie_x From: tibbie_x Date: February 11th, 2012 02:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really like this post, Ive never been comfortable with the Lords prayer. Sometimes at the end of an A.A. meeting they recite the Lords Prayer and it always makes me uncomfortable because I feel its kinda personally degrading. I also stopped saying the Pledge of Allegiance in high school, not to be obnoxiousness it just made me feel like a forced soldier being trained for war and I felt stupid talking to a flag. I was asked to not attend homeroom anymore because I wouldnt say it. I really like the Lakota prayer it reminds me of the virtues we used to recite at the end of Ninjitsu class

Love is our Law
Truth is our Guide
Nature is our companion
Beauty and perfection is our life

Its a little hard to deprogram the American translation of beauty and perfection and not have that associated with dieting, spray tans hairstyles, making money etc. Im sure since it originated from Japanese rebels in the 15th century? they had something else in mind.
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